Friday, May 30, 2008

Brett's locker is history, KGB has surgery, training camp schedule set

Over the past several weeks, you may have heard various sports pundits on ESPN and elsewhere speculating on the reason why the Packers had yet to remove Brett Favre's name from his locker. Could it be because they were holding out hope he'd un-retire? Or did they know something the rest of us didn't?


Turns out that it was just a bit of a delay in dismantling the locker and shipping it off to Brett as a bit of a thank you for his time with the Pack. "We decided several months ago that at the appropriate time that we would disassemble it, crate it up and take it to Brett's place so it will be Brett's locker," Packers' GM Ted Thompson told reporters on Thursday. "The reason we hadn't done it yet is because the workers have to have the time and freedom to come and go and so we've got to do it sometime between our minicamp and the start of our training camp."

Following yesterday's practice, Brett's nameplate was finally removed and replaced by a plain Packers nameplate. (Yes, bow your heads for a moment of silence...thank you.) The whole unit will be pulled out after the June minicamp concludes and will be replaced with a new one. Aaron Rodgers won't have to answer questions anymore about still seeing Brett's locker and what that might mean. And Brett will get a locker to hold his fishing gear and who-knows-what.

KGB has surgery
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila had arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday morning in an effort to help mitigate the nagging problems he had this last year and which have apparently carried over into Spring workouts and OTAs. The idea is to have him ready for training camp. You can read more about this and some of the other ailing Packers here.

Packers Training Camp Schedule Set
The Packers have set their summer training camp schedule, beginning on Monday, July 28, with two practices. Because of the Monday night preseason opener, the Packers wind up having to cram all four preseason games into an 18-day span. Yikes! There's only four days between games 1 and 2, and five days each between games 2 and 3, and games 3 and 4. Coach Mike McCarthy stated, "Our training camp schedule really parallels our in-season schedule. We have a prime-time, Monday Night Football game to start the preseason and the regular season, so this will help us prepare for the regular season." They will certainly get a feel for working at a hectic pace.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Party on, Aaron

That would be the new starting QB for the Packers, Aaron Rodgers. And it's not really a party party in the style of what McGee and Hornung made famous. Or even the kind of partying that ol' #4 used to engage in in his younger days. What we're talking about here is more like inviting the buddies and their wives over once in a while. Not like inviting our buddies who bring Red, White & Blue Beer and the generic potato chips -- you know who you are! -- but football-playing buddies. Teammates. Guys whom you are counting on to not only protect your sweet behind the way they did for Brett Favre, but...well...if you're a QB that's probably about it, right?

Anyway, Mr. Rodgers sprung for quite a little soiree (look it up!) at his pad in Green Bay last night. With almost the entire roster in town for Packers' OTAs, more than 30 players were expected to be there. Wives were also encouraged to attend. Video games, pool, BS'ing and no doubt lots of food awaited the guests. Now, here is where that scenario differs, likely, from our get-togethers and theirs: Rodgers had the party catered. He could afford it, of course. And, again, when you're counting on people to protect your paycheck, you better not stick 'em with a bad burrito, know what I'm sayin'? I think you do.

Anyway, you can read more about this social event here.

Harrell's latest MIA due to earlier back surgery
Was I the only one that missed the Pack's #1 pick from last year, Justin Harrell, having back surgery about a month ago? No? You didn't hear about it either? Good. I feel better now.

Anyway, as noted here yesterday, Harrell is out of the OTAs -- missing in action for the second straight year (that would be his only two as a Packer, of course) -- due to injury. Apparently, he had injured himself lifting weights and had outpatient surgery. According to the article in The Capital Times, the surgery was done "to correct a disk problem." OKaaaaaaaaay. At least the youngster is realistic. "He said he realizes he may get the label as being injury-prone," the article states. Ya think? If you care to know more, check out the article here.

Packers sign tight end
Looking for still more help at the tight end spot, it was announced today that the Pack signed undrafted free agent Evan Moore out of Stanford. Moore has pretty good size at 6-6, although he'll have to beef up at only 237 pounds. That's because Moore played all his years at Stanford as a wide receiver. He finished his four-year career with 103 receptions for 1,555 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Schroeder to retire as a Packer

Seven years after he last played with the Pack and four years after his last game in the NFL, wide receiver and Sheboygan native Bill Schroeder, will retire as a Green Bay Packer. I know, I know, who knew he wasn't already retired, right?

Anyway, according to a press release by the Packers, Schroeder "has informed the club of his decision to retire with the Packers." Schroeder is quoted thusly: "It was a great privilege to have played for the Packers for the majority of my NFL career," Schroeder said. "I am honored that the Green Bay Packers have allowed me to end my playing days as a member of one of the greatest franchises in professional sports. I look forward to my continued relationship with the team and helping them and the community in any way possible."

Schroeder will no doubt be active with the Packer alumni. He received an award from the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce while with the team for his community service and was also actively involved in lobbying for the redevelopment of Lambeau Field. Being a good ol' Wisconsin boy, Schroeder no doubt will be a regular fixture at Packer games and events as much as possible.

You can read more about Schroeder's retirement here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Packers OTAs underway - Harrell hurt again

Packers organized team activities (OTAs) -- the mini-camps that aren't -- are underway this week. These are the practices that aren't really mandatory for the players, but given the level of competition for roster spots most players see them as essential.

Take, for example, the receivers. There are 12 of 'em in Green Bay this week, all trying to make sure they are one of the 6 or 7 receivers who make the final cut. Who's likely safe? Donald Driver, of course, Greg Jennings and James Jones, plus -- barring some major problem or injury -- the Packers first pick from this year's draft, Jordy Nelson. Dependable Ruvell Martin should also garner a spot, although it's not guaranteed and he knows it. Then you've got the other receiver from this year's draft, Brett Swain. Johnny Quinn, who signed with the Pack after a workout in January, is also trying to make the team, perhaps on special teams. Shaun Bodiford, Chris Francies, and undrafted free agents Jake Allen, Rod Harper and Taj Smith round out the competition.

The Pack had one of the best young receiving corps in the league last year and it appears as if it will only be better this year given the competition for jobs. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. Aaron Rodgers should have lots of good targets to choose from. (And, while we're speaking of Rodgers, this is now the first set of practices since he's been in Green Bay where he's now The Man. Heck, it's the first set of practices since about 1992 or so where anyone other than Brett Favre has been The Man. Still a bit surreal, isn't it?)

Harrell hurt...again
Remember how last year the Pack's surprise first round draft pick, Justin Harrell, couldn't participate in pre-season practices because of the torn bicep injury from his senior year at Tennessee? Well, according to reports and the Packers' own website, Harrell will also miss this year's OTAs with a back injury. During the course of last season, Harrell didn't get much playing time -- wasn't even active for many games -- because of knee and ankle injuries. So this must be a new injury. Fans may recall that one of the raps on Harrell coming out of college was that he was injury prone. Well...guess we'll see how this one turns out. The Packers website says that Harrell, along with cornerback Will Blackmon (foot) and defensive tackle Johnny Jolly (shoulder) are out for the entire four-week OTA session but "all three should be cleared for the start of training camp."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

You know it's slow when...


That's pretty much been the sound around Packerland these days. Not much going on. As is evidenced when a couple of the stories reporters are writing these days have to do with Herbert "Whisper" Goodman (remember him?) and the defunct NFL-Europe. Really. That's been about it. Oh, there was also former Packers center Frank Winters talking about Favre's retirement. And then there was an announcement about the Packers Hall of Fame banquet. So...I know you're on the edge of your seat...without further ado...

If you are starved for news that is even remotely tied to the Packers, then you'll be glad to know that a former Packers RB -- the one with arguably the best nickname ever -- is now setting his sights on becoming a world mixed martial arts (MMA) champion. Herbert "Whisper" Goodman is a rising star in the MMA world. He has an 8-3 record and, if you want to see him in action and happen to be near Milwaukee, you can see him headline tonight (Sat. May 17) at State Fair Park in a MMA event called Gladiators Fighting 52 "Thunderdome." Or, you can just read about ol' Whisper here.

As to the demise of NFL-Europe -- which for the last 15 years gave us hardcore football fans a fix in Spring and early Summer -- and its impact upon Packers' scouting and player personnel programs, you can read more here.

Former Packers center Frank Winters was interviewed on 620WTMJ radio recently about Favre's retirement, etc. Worth a listen. And, by the way, Winters' "Bag-a-Donuts" nickname isn't bad either is it? That was a fave of John Madden, too.

Favre & Starr at Packers Hall of Fame banquet
Speaking of Frankie Winters, he's going to be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame along with Gilbert "The Gravedigger" Brown -- man, there's another great nickname! -- and video director Al Treml, who regrettably has no far as we know. Winters' snap partner, Brett Favre, will do the honors of presenting him for induction. Bart Starr will be presenting Al Treml. Santana Dotson will do the honors for Gilbert. Another Packers Hall of Famer (that's the Packers Hall of Fame not the NFL, to be clear), center, and now radio game analyst Larry "The Rock" McCarren will emcee the event, which will be held July 19 at the Lambeau Field Atrium. By the way, if you were planning on getting tix...nope. Already sold out.

In addition to the induction of Winters, Brown, and Treml, this year's FAN honoree, Richard 'Ike' Eisenhauer, will also be recognized.

Geez, is there anyone that doesn't have a nickname?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Pack releases Koren Robinson

Given the draft and players signed in free agency, it was only a matter of time before somebody had to go at wide receiver -- 13 is a crowded field after all. It wasn't going to be Donald Driver, or Greg Jennings, or James Jones, or Ruvell Martin or any of the other young receivers the Pack has in the stable. It certainly wasn't going to be the new receivers the Pack drafted, at least not at this stage of things. So, that left a receiver who had tried last year to reclaim the potential he had earlier in his career before off-the-field problems and injuries set in: Koren Robinson. He was released by the Packers today after his agent was unable to find any teams willing to trade with the Packers.

Robinson was one of those players who many fans, including this one, liked coming out of college and who was rooting for to make a comeback. One of his biggest backers, of course, was Brett Favre. But in watching him play last year it was obvious that his speed was not what it used to be. And at age 28, that's not a good sign. Especially when you have a bunch of guys coming up behind you on the squad who are much younger and much faster.

The Pack -- and Ted Thompson in particular -- did a lot to help Robinson resurrect his career. They apparently part on good terms. Robinson will likely get a look by a few teams. He may not be what he was. But on some teams, he's going to be better than what they may have for third or fourth receivers. We wish him well.

You can read the news about Robinson's release here.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Pack sign 3 tryout players

The Packers officially announced today that they signed three players who were in for tryouts this last weekend: CB Condrew Allen from Portland State, CB Kyle Ward out of Louisiana-Lafayette, and OT Ryan Considine, Louisiana Tech. It's possible they may also sign Arkansas DT Fred Bledsoe after he's recovered from his arthroscopic ankle surgery, according to his agent.

As noted in our post of yesterday regarding RB Justin Beaver, the Packers are caught in a numbers game at present given the 80-man roster limit and the need to still sign draft picks as well as Ryan Grant.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Packers: no contract for Beaver

To the disappointment of many pulling for the small town, small college, small in stature RB, Justin Beaver, the Packers have not offered him a contract following what was -- even by head coach Mike McCarthy's own words -- an "impressive" tryout weekend.

It came down to a numbers game, at least at this point. There is a possibility things might change in a couple weeks when the NFL owners consider increasing the roster limit from 80 to 86 players. At present, the Packers have 78 players under contract, not including nine draft picks and unsigned RB Ryan Grant.

Whether the move to 86 players would be enough to get Beaver a spot or not remains to be seen. But, again, from all indications McCarthy would really like to give Beaver an opportunity in some capacity. Where might that roster spot come from? Well, the Packers currently have two long snappers in the fold; that won't happen long-term, obviously. There will be a lot of trimming to do as the months unfold before the start of the regular season. Perhaps at some point -- hopefully sooner rather than later or not at all -- the Pack will give Beaver a call.

You can read a bit more about this situation here.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Rookie camp ends - thoughts from McCarthy

From Coach Mike McCarthy's words, it sounds as if he was very pleased with the rookies he worked with over the past three days, both the draft picks and those in for tryouts. A few he mentioned by name: TE Jermichael Finley, P Ken DeBauche and RB tryout player Justin Beaver. According to McCarthy, out of the 13 or so players in for a tryout, "we're looking to bring back approximately four of them."

When asked specifically about Beaver -- who is a sentimental favorite here, as you may have guessed -- he said, "I'll tell you what, he's been very impressive. He's done a very nice job. He plays with a lot of energy, very quick, explosive. As far as, does he have a shot, that's something actually we'll discuss when we get back upstairs. But I would love for him to have an opportunity, because he's been impressive." Sounds as if, from Friday through today, McCarthy has been impressed with Beaver. I'm guessing he'll be one of those asked back.

You can read the entire transcript of McCarthy's press conference held at the conclusion of today's camp session here.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Packers tryout list and rookie camp comments

In addition to UW-Whitewater RB Justin Beaver, who has been mentioned here several times, the Packers also have the following players in this weekend for tryouts:

Kyle Ward, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette
Condrew Allen, CB, Portland State
Matthew Harper, S, Oregon
Lance Ball, RB, Maryland
Michael Medina, CB, Wyoming
Brandent Englemon, S, Michigan
Louie Runnels, FB, Stephen F. Austin
Tierre Green, CB, Nebraska
Durell Mapp, LB, North Carolina
Marlon Fair, S, Hampton
Josh Ferguson, LB, Purdue
Adam Hill, C, Louisiana-Monroe
Tui Alailefaleula, DT, Washington
Ryan Considine, OT, Louisiana Tech
Fred Bledsoe, DT, Arkansas
Ola Dagunduro, DT, Nebraska
Chris Walker, DT, Western Kentucky
Marque Fountain, DE, Oklahoma State.

McCarthy's comments on first day of rookie orientation

Head Coach Mike McCarthy was very pleased with what he saw Friday. "There's a lot of good looking players both in the free agent and the tryout category." He thought Justin Beaver was "quick as a hiccup." As for first pick WR Jordy Nelson, McCarthy "Really liked the way he moves...He's an accomplished route-runner, just the little I've seen. I'm glad he's on our team." As for QBs Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn, "You could see they both have a lot of experience, just the way they step into the huddle. Their huddle command was very good." So, some good first impressions for the head coach.

You can read his entire comments about his impressions of the first day with the rookies here.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Packers rookie orientation camp underway

Today through Sunday, the Packers will be hosting the drafted and undrafted rookies they signed this last week. There will also be a handful of first-year players on hand. There will even be a player or two who is not signed but who has been invited to try out for the team. There will be one practice session each day, along with meetings with coaches, medical personnel and staff members.

As noted here in prior posts, one of those players in for a tryout is UW-Whitewater RB Justin Beaver. And, as also said here before, he's a kid you just have to root for. You can hear a radio interview he did this a.m. with Milwaukee station 620WTMJ while he was driving to Green Bay. He's very realistic that he is a long-shot, but all he wants is that one shot. And he's got it this weekend. You can listen to him give his thoughts about the weekend and beyond here.

Camp Calendar
MAY 2-4: Rookie orientation camp, Don Hutson Center
MAY 19-JUNE 12: Organized team activity sessions. (One OTA session each week, weather permitting, will be open to the public and held at Ray Nitschke Field. The dates are May 21, 29, June 4, 11).
JUNE 17-19: Mandatory mini-camp (Ray Nitschke Field).
JULY 28: First summer training camp practice (Clarke Hinkle Field).